Showing posts with label USAID. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USAID. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2016

SIGAR Report on USAID's Stabilization Initiatives

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a report on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to provide stability to Afghanistan. The report says that USAID generally achieved its objectives but the agency lacked a geospatial data policy and standards affected its implementation.
"Beginning in 2011, with the drawdown of coalition troops throughout Afghanistan, USAID faced increasing challenges in overseeing its stabilization programs. To address these challenges, in March 2012, USAID awarded Management Systems International Inc. (MSI) as contract to implement the Measuring Impacts of Stabilization Initiatives (MISTI) program to monitor and evaluate eight ongoing stabilization programs costing $762 million. The agency estimated that MISTI would last 3 years and cost approximately $15 million. The contract ended in October 2015 and ultimately cost $19.3 million."
Read "USAID's Measuring Impacts of Stabilization Initiatives", SIGAR 17-10 Audit Report, October 2016. (32 pages, Adobe Acrobat PDF).

Friday, March 13, 2015

USAID Contractor Under Fire- (IRD)

The largest nonprofit contractor working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is under fire. It seems that International Relief and Development, Inc. of Arlington, Va billed the U.S. government over $1 million for luxury parties and retreats for its executives and staff. Read more in "In a word, reprehensible: USAID contractor billed UW $1.1M for luxury parties, retreats", Stars and Stripes, March 12, 2015.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Oversight for Aid Projects Diminishes

A few years back there were over 100,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. USAID could use these personnel scattered across hundreds of FOBs and COPs as a set of eyes to provide oversight over aid projects that were being implemented by various humanitarian organizations and contractors. However, in 2015 there are only 11,000 U.S. military personnel confined to a few relatively large bases (Herat, Mes-e Sharif, Bagram, Gamberi, and Kandahar) and oversight on aid projects is problematic. Alone with the diminished oversight is a likely growth in corruption and failed aid projects. Read more in "US agencies adjust to shifting landscape in Afghanistan", Stars and Stripes, February 14, 2015.

Monday, January 5, 2015


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has many programs to assist development throughout the world. One of these programs, Commercial Horticulture and Agricultural Marketing Program (CHAMP) is in operation in Afghanistan. Read a story on how CHAMP assisted an Afghan grape farmer to rebuild his farm and his life in "From Charikar to the World", USAID FRONTLINES, November/December 2014.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Afghanistan Still Dependent on West

The western world has sunk massive amounts of aid money into Afghanistan. Some of this aid money has been used to a good purpose with measurable results. However, much of the aid money was siphoned off by corrupt Afghan politicians, squandered on expensive projects poorly done or still incomplete, or paid to contractors and implementing partners to provide security for aid projects in contested areas. Read more in "After 10 Years of Western Aid, Afghanistan Is A Dependent Mess", Business Insider, December 24, 2014.

Friday, December 19, 2014

SIGAR Report on Afghan Women

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a report entitled Afghan Women:  Comprehensive Assessments Needed to Determine and Measure DOD, State, and USAID Progress, SIGAR 15-24 Audit Report, December 2014. The report states that there is no comprehensive assessment available to confirm that gains have been made in the status of women as a direct result of U.S. efforts. Together, DoD, State, and USAID spent over $64 million on over 650 projects, programs, and initiatives to support Afghan women from 2011 to 2013. SIGAR found there is a lack of accountability in the programs because none of the three agencies (DOD, State, and USAID) have effective mechanisms for tracking the funding associated with the women's projects. The report contains a number of recommendations on the way forward. Read the report at the link below:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CASA-1000 Project

The CASA-1000 project is an ambitious venture - supported by the United States - to have Central Asian countries export surplus electricity to Afghanistan and Pakistan during the summer months. While there are many critics of this program the U.S. State Department and USAID believe it will change the economic environment for Central Asia and specifically, Afghanistan. Read more in "Powering a New Silk Road: Helping Connect Supply with Demand in South and Central Asia", USAID Frontlines, November / December 2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

SIGAR - Afghan Development Effort a Failure

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) - John Sopko - has called America's development effort in Afghanistan a failure. Read more in "Sopko faults leadership for 'abysmal failure' in Afghanistan nation-building", Stars and Stripes, November 18, 2014.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

USAID "Promote"

Photo: USAID
USAID is bankrolling $216 million to fund their "Promote" program. Promote is a joint commitment by the U.S. and Afghan Governments that will work to empower 75,000 women between the ages of 18-30 and help ensure these women are included among a new generation of political, business, and civil society leaders. Promote will ensure that women in Afghanistan will have the skills, experience, knowledge, and networks to succeed alongside their male counterparts. The program consists of four components - leadership development, women in government, women in the economy, and women's rights groups and coalitions. View a USAID "Fact Sheet" on Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs (Promote), November 2014. There is also a "Fact Sheet" in Dari and Pashto here. See a webpage by USAID on gender equity in national priority programs. Catherine M. Russell, the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues (State) has provided a video (10 Nov 14) with remarks about the launch of the USAID Promote program in Kabul.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Report - Social Outreach Program, USAID and SIGAR

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has provided a report entitled USAID's Afghanistan Social Outreach Program: Audit of Costs Incurred by AECOM International Development, Inc. The report, SIGAR 14-94 Financial Audit, was published in September 2014.
"USAID signed a contract with AECOM International Development to establish community councils (shuras) at the district level and promote communication and collaboration between the Afghan government and communities. This support to the Afghanistan Social Outreach Program (ASOP) was intended to expand the role of the traditional shuras, overcome corruption, and increase participation in the political process by woman, youth, and other marginalized groups". 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remote Management of Afghan Aid Projects

Humanitarian aid organizations are looking hard at the viability of continuing aid projects in Afghanistan over the long term with the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan. As of fall 2014 most ISAF forces are either in Kabul or operating at the regional or Afghan Army Corps level; leaving no one at the provincial and district level. The level of security (now the responsibility of the Afghan security forces) has diminished throughout Afghanistan. Without the presence of international troops many aid organizations have ceased on-site management of aid projects; relying instead on remote management of projects. Unfortunately, the quality of aid goes down significantly with remote management due to inadequate monitoring, poor workmanship, and corruption. You can learn more about the challenges and risks that NGOs will face in 2015 (after the ISAF mission is complete) in Transition and Non-Government Organizations in Afghanistan: An Assessment and Prospects, by the Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization, published in January 2014 at this link.

Friday, February 28, 2014

USAID Explains Future Role in Afghanistan

The USAID Assistant Administrator - Larry Sampler - says that USAID will continue to be engaged in Afghanistan. Read more in "USAID in Afghanistan a long way from normal", DEVEX, February 21, 2014.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

SIGAR Warns About Corruption as Drawdown Looms

The Special Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan (SIGAR) is warning the U.S. public and members of Congress that a good portion of the $5 billion plus we will likely send to Afghanistan each year for the next few years may go to waste. Currently the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have inadequate safeguards to ensure the money is used for the designated purpose. As there will be less and less troops on the ground (as of February 2014 there are 32,000) as time goes on it will become harder and harder to provide the proper oversight needed to inspect development projects and place advisers in the proper places to ensure money is used properly. Compounding this problem of inability to provide oversight (because bad security prevents observers to go out to over 80% of the country side) is the immense corruption found within the highest reaches of the Afghan government to include the current president - Hamid Karzai. Read more in "As Afghanistan Drawdown Looms, Inspector General Warns of Graft", The Huffington Post, February 18, 2014.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wanted: Photographers for USAID (That Can Travel to Where USAID Can't in Afghanistan)

USAID had a solicitation for photographer services within Afghanistan to take high-quality photos of development work under the oversight of USAID. The solicitation was short-lived. Learn more about USAID's need for good photography to counter negative stories in "USAID: High-quality photos could turn the tide in Afghanistan", The Washington Post, February 14, 2014. Read the actual solicitation at this link here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

USAID and the Office of Transition Initiatives in Afghanistan

One of the more successful programs of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is it's Office of Transition Initiatives in Afghanistan. OTI has just chosen the firms that will implement the vast majority of its programs through the next five years. The nine partner firms that will assist USAID in the implementation of the development contracts include AECOM, Casals and Associates, Chemonics International, Creative Associates International, DAI, International Relief and Development, International Resources Group/Engility, Management Systems International, and RTI International. Read more on this topic in "USAID's audacious transition initiatives finds partners",, February 14, 2014.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

USAID Public Relations Problems

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) feels it has a publicity problem. In military parlance that could mean Public Affairs (PR), information operations (IO), or inform and influence activities (IIA). Whatever you want to call it - PR, IO, or IAA - USAID has a perception problem. The USAID has been on the receiving end of countless reports detailing waste, fraud, and corruption in the development projects it oversees in Afghanistan. So in an attempt to counter the bad publicity it has been getting it wants to hire professional photographers to photograph its various projects upon which it has oversight. However, it appears (according to the solicitation) that photographer needs to be able to operate within Afghanistan independent of USAID and military forces - as the photographer will be visiting places USAID and the US military no longer can visit because of security reasons (security still is not that great in Afghanistan evidently). This begs the question. If USAID can't visit the project sites to take its own photographs how can USAID provide proper oversight on those projects involving millions of dollars? Things that make you go "Hmmmmm". Read more in "USAID struggles to capture a different picture of Afghanistan", The Washington Post, February 13, 2014.

USAID Conducting Propaganda on US Public?

Some questions are being raised on a recent USAID solicitation for independent professional photographers to visit and photograph recent USAID projects in an attempt to provide pro-USAID photos that depict the projects in a positive light. It seems that the USAID cannot visit the sites and take their own photos because of security concerns. The same security concerns that prevent USAID from taking their own photographs probably hamper the oversight USAID is supposed to provide on these expensive projects. And therein lies the problem. It isn't a public perception problem; it is a poor oversight problem. But I guess USAID doesn't get it. Read more in "USAID cancels contract for good news from Afghanistan", USA Today, February 13, 2014.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

USAID Outlines Funding for Afghanistan

USAID has announced three new development programs to assist the Afghans as they transition from an economy dominated by aid and development programs provided by donor nations, the effects of having thousands of foreign troops stationed in the country, and the drug trade. One program provides $125 million to Afghanistan's food and farm sector, a second program with a price tag of $77 million over four years will attempt to open Afghanistan up to greater international trade and investment, and the third program worth almost $100 million will help ten Afghan universities with programs that are partnered with three U.S. universities. The U.S. Congress significantly reduced aid to Afghanistan (almost by one half) in the latest budget deal. Read more in "U.S. aid plan seeks to shield Afghanistan from end to war economy", Reuters, February 9, 2014.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SIGAR Report: USAID Report Card 2002-2013

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pumped over $13.3 billion dollars into Afghanistan between 2002 and 2013. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has completed a report on where the money went, how it was spent, and who spent the money for use. The date of the report is January 23, 2014. USAID awarded funds to implementing partners including multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, for-profit corporations, Afghan government entities, and U.S. government entities. The report provides a concise yet detailed accounting of where the money went and the scope of the USAID programs. You can read the report online or download it on the SIGAR website at

Friday, January 31, 2014

Afghan Ministries Incapable of Managing Aid Money

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a report stating that there are no Afghan ministries that are capable of managing the billions of AID dollars that are transferred directly into the coffers of the Afghan treasury. Two different well-known accounting firms have conducted audits and found the ministries wanting. We are probably several years late but our military would probably have been better off sending a few thousand accountants to Afghanistan to help with management of the money and less tactical advisors to help the Afghans fight battles on the ground. Read more in "Report: No Afghan ministry capable of managing aid", Stars and Stripes, January 30, 2014.